Life is Worth Celebrating

Due to my very hectic work schedule the past few months, I found it too difficult to cope with my backlog for my blog. Celebration after celebration happened that I didn’t have the time to write about what transpired during our many ‘firsts’ in Toronto until today. Thanks to the ridiculous amount of chocolates we received during the holidays which I’ve OD’d on thus, the sugar rush… Hehe.

Sharing with all of you are some of our many ‘firsts’ here in Toronto.

We had fun celebrating our baby Ania’s Snoopy and Friends-themed first birthday party! πŸ™‚

DSC04167

We also witnessed how the leaves transitioned from green to yellow to red during autumn. We took a stroll (while holding hands, hehe) at High Park one fine day, our first autumn together.

 

We also gobbled up during our very first Thanksgiving Day with family and friends.

We were not able to go trick or treating during Halloween but we sure had fun partying with these party people!

And of course, our very first Christmas in our tiny, cosy home

Looking forward to many more firsts this 2016! πŸ™‚

Paalam, Lola: A Tribute

Its is so difficult to write again especially if one writes about a heart-breaking event for the entire family such as this. I don’t even know where to begin. The past months were trying times for the whole family as my grandma got admitted back to the hospital again and spent most of her days in and out of the intensive care unit. During those times, no prayer was left unsaid each night. All we did was pray for her speedy recovery.

My grandma is a fighter. When my cousins and I were small kids, we used to giver her headaches during nap and meal times. We were left under her care when our parents left for work. She took care of her seven children plus her grandchildren. She just had so much love to give. Sometimes, it made me wonder where all her energy came from. There were too many of us drawing strength, love and attention from her but her supply didn’t run out. It was constant until her last breath. Being married to a soldier, she is fierce like that.

One of our family friends said that I am like my grandma, that I have taken most of her qualities. I guess that’s because I spent most of my growing up days with her. I’ve learned many things from her. I learned how to become prayerful because of her. My grandma is known in our community. When she was younger, she would be called in by neighbours to lead the prayers for those who died. She would always bring us with her. I’ve learned how to pray the rosary as well as the different mysteries at an early age. She was one strict lady. Everyday, at 6pm, she would always stop me and my cousins from playing because it was time to go back home to pray The Angelus. She also led me to become a devotee of the Our Lady of Lourdes. We used to go to church in white dresses with blue ribbon as devotees to Our Lady of Lourdes. My grandma wore the same outfit up to her last day on earth.

My grandma also taught me how to be an entrepreneur. She used to make different Pinoy sweet treats such as bukayo, espasol, polvoron, yema, etc. to make ends meet and to keep herself busier. After school, we would help her wrap these treats and because we wanted to make extra money for our allowance, my brothers and I would bring packs of these treats to school and sell them. I learned how to value hard-earned money because of her. I also learned how to be ‘ma-abilidad’ when it comes to making extra cash.

She also taught me how to become steadfast during times of adversaries. My grandma became everyone’s source of strength when my grandfather left for the US. She’s got 7 children and during that time, one of them had early symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, not to mention all the grandchildren left with her day in, day out. She didn’t tire looking after everyone’s welfare and constantly provided for the entire family.

I can go on and on about the many life lessons I’ve learned from her but I suppose the most important thing that I’ve learned is to always put family above all things. No family is perfect for in every family there are different personalities trying to understand and even outshine others sometimes, but at the end of the day, family is family-that despite differences and flaws, one will embrace another because of love.

My grandmother is the glue that holds our family together and right up to her death, she managed to bring all of us together no matter where we are. Now that she’s gone, its feels good that our family had been bonded by her love forever and there’s no trial we won’t overcome for sure. My grandma’s legacy will live on.

To our matriarch, thank you for all the love you have showered us every single day of our lives. Our lives will never be the same without you but knowing that you are up there guiding us in every decision we make and will make, makes all of us a little braver.

Paalam lola, mahal kita.

12399134_10204141786945240_1180314059_n

 

My Favourite

jumpcat-212

I can write a million words about you

and let the whole world know the real you.

But it is in silence and quiet times your heart shines

all the more during hard, trying times.

You are the sugar to my coffee,

I’m the flower, you’re the bee.

My mustard to my ketchup,

I’m the comma, you’re my full stop.

Despite disagreeing on many things

we always end up complementing.

Your strengths, my weaknesses

Your weaknesses, my strengths.

On your birthday, please know

that you will always be my favourite, I love you.

Blessed and Loved

live-each-day-with-thankful-heart

There are two reasons why I get mushy. One, whenever I feel down and blue. Two, when I’m overjoyed and couldn’t contain my emotions. Sounds like I’m a bipolar and my husband will totally agree when he reads this. Hehe. I’m writing this post because my heart is very jumpy and overflows with happiness and gratitude for the little and big things that we have been blessed with every single day. So, I started volunteering for this non-profit organisation that holds the annual Kindness Week in the Greater Toronto Area and we started off our meeting yesterday by individually expressing what we are thankful for. Thinking back, here are some of the things I’ve been extremely grateful for:

Time- looking at the brighter side of things, I sometimes get to think that the reason why God has not given me the right job yet is so that I can have time to make sure my husband is alright everyday especially when he started reporting for work three weeks ago, have time to volunteer and connect with people who have kind intentions for other people, have time to look for our own place and of course, have time to do the things I love doing like yoga, reading, movie marathoning, and eating! πŸ™‚

Health- I suppose this is something that I always pray for every night particularly my parents’, families’ and our relatives’ health. I mean, we can all work like a dog and earn the money we’ve all worked hard for, but, what is wealth if we don’t get to enjoy it because the people we love are sick? I’m grateful too that despite the shifting temperatures we’ve experienced the past few weeks, my husband and I are perfectly fit and healthy.

Technology- It brings us closer to our family back in the Philippines. My parents know about Skype now and we’ve got Skype dates too. Whenever I feel blue, my mom can easily send me a private message on FB to check on me/us. I can easily contact my brothers too. It makes catching up with family and friends easy peasy.

Trying times- this is the time I can openly talk about the difficulties I’ve faced the past few weeks probably because I have already moved on and chose to look at the good side of what I experienced. I joined a company (I thought it would be for keeps), did the training for two days, signed the contract and found out that the company hired me for a position I didn’t even apply for. Anyway, I still carried on and did the field training. I toiled for 8 hours doing field work even if the weather was almost negative and went home drenched and soaked. Alberto told me not to go back to work the next day (even if I’d still want to give it another shot). Heartbroken, I didn’t go to work the next day and was stuck at home searching for a new job (again). I opted to see the good in this experience and by doing so and while typing this post, I’ve been called in by Philips Canada to report to work next Monday! *does the happy dance* Yay! Trying times hit you hard ’til you can’t take any more beating. Hold your ground. It’ll get tired eventually. When it’s done, get back up, dust yourself off (you wouldn’t want to be unpretty for a long time) and seize every opportunity that comes your way. There’s no way to go but up after a downfall, right?

Last, I thank the Lord for the friendships and relationships we have. We have a very strong support group. The kind of relationships that surround us inspires me to be grateful for the kind of relationship that I have with my husband.

Whether it’s a big or small blessing, let us always remind ourselves to begin each day with a grateful heart. What about you? What are you grateful for?

Throwback Thursday: Niagara Falls in the Summer

Hello there! Missed me? πŸ™‚ Apologies for I have been so busy the past few weeks- new job, volunteering activities, and back to job hunting (again) that I have totally put blogging on the side. Since I haven’t shared anything recently, this is going to be a throwback post of our day trip to Niagara Falls. I wanted to write some random ramblings but nah… there’s so much negativity going on everyday so why add up? I want my readers to be inspired and feel good so I hope this post will prompt you to come and visit Canada one day and at the same time, visit us!Β We were blessed to have visited this famous landmark right on the border of Ontario, Canada and New York, USA during the summer with friends. It wasn’t that hot nor too cold the day we went to see this majestic falls. There are a lot of attractions in the area, a day spent in Niagara is going to be super worth it.

DSC03989 DSC03991 DSC03993 DSC03999 DSC04000 DSC04003 DSC04005 DSC04010 DSC04012 DSC04015 DSC04019 DSC04021 DSC04022 DSC04023 DSC04025 DSC04026 DSC04032 DSC04034 DSC04037 DSC04041 DSC04042DSC04046

We rode the Hornblower to see the falls up close. I almost chickened out. Red-coloured raincoats mean from Canada side, blue-colored ones mean from the US side.

DSC04044DSC04043DSC04049DSC04050DSC04053

that’s the bridge connecting US and Canada

DSC04055DSC04056

these photos are courtesy of our good friends, Joy and Jonathan. πŸ™‚Β 

11992112_10153075002581127_964023117_n11996956_10153075002606127_738067001_n11997053_10153075003436127_1842357485_n12007019_10153075002726127_1042226523_n12007284_10153075003491127_1625612366_n

Massive and powerful.Β 

DSC04060DSC04068DSC04069DSC04071DSC04075DSC04077DSC04078DSC04094

Lunch with a view

11997852_10153075003681127_14792404_nDSC04098

We also went to a butterfly farmΒ 

DSC04100DSC04101DSC04102DSC04109DSC04110DSC04129DSC04135DSC04148DSC04154

last group shot before heading back home

DSC04156

Recipe 101: Corned Beef Sinigang with Watermelon

Just by reading the title of this post makes you go, ‘Whuuuttt?’ Yes, you got that right. Corned beef in tamarind stock plus watermelon. This variation of the Filipino dish, sinigang (sour soup), hails from the region of Pampanga. I love any kind of sinigang- pork, fish, prawn, chicken and even beef! Everything you need for the day goes right into the pot- soup, veggies and meat! This recipe that I’ll be sharing with you is sinigang with a twist. For every sinigang-lover (just like me), you just can’t let this recipe not be in your kitchen tales. The watermelon balances the sour taste of the soup by making it a tad sweet. If you want to be more experimental and up your sinigang chronicles, here’s the recipe that would give your sinigang a kick.

KC_Filipino_Sinigang-sa-Pakwan

(Photo courtesy of Pinterest)

What you need:

  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil (I used olive oil)
  • 2 big cans of corned beef (chunky and juicy ones)
  • 1 tbsp garlic, crushed
  • 2 big shallots, chopped
  • 2 big tomatoes, sliced
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 4 long green chillies (if you want it a bit spicy, you can chop them but I like them whole)
  • quarter of a whole watermelon, cut into 5cm pieces
  • 3 pieces of long brinjal, cut
  • 12 pieces of lady’s fingers, cut in half or you can use long beans as substitute
  • 8 pieces of winged bean (sigarilyas), cut
  • 1 pack of Knorr sinigang sa gabi (don’t judge, not an advertisement either. I couldn’t find tamarinds on this side of the planet)
  1. Place a large casserole over medium-high heat. Add the oil and saute garlic, shallots and tomatoes.
  2. Once the tomatoes are nicely cooked, add the corned beef. Add the fish sauce. Let the juices mix evenly.
  3. Add water, reduce the heat to medium and let it simmer for about 15 minutes.
  4. Add the watermelon and let it boil for another 10 minutes.
  5. Add the Knorr Sinigang sa Gabi Mix and let it boil for 5 minutes.
  6. Then, add the brinjal and cook until tender.
  7. Add the lady’s fingers, winged bean and green chillies. Cook for just a minute because you don’t want your greens overcooked.
  8. Serve with steamed white rice and fish sauce with lime and red cut chillies for dipping.

IMG_20150927_192207

Travel Tuesday: The Royal Ontario Museum

During one of my primary school field trips, I remembered our class went to The National Museum in Manila and the moment I saw The Spolarium, I knew it right then that I would be fascinated with museums forever. Then, I got married to a guy who also digs museum dates. Yup, so there’s really no escaping it. Hahaha! There’s always something about museums that people find intimidating. There’s a connotation that museums are only for the snooty sophisticates and the educated. We’d like to think otherwise because museums open their doors to people from all walks of life. Some museums are even free of charge!

A trip to the museum fills a certain void in your being the moment you step out of it. You get out of the museum more learned, well-informed about exquisite items we’ll never get to own in our lifetime and yes, a bit more cultured.

The first museum we got to visit here in Toronto is The Royal Ontario Museum, one of the largest museums in North America. It is the second biggest for Canadian Art Museum. It houses state-of-the-art galleries and features a wide array of exhibits from the east to west. My favourite exhibit has got to be the Viva Mexico Clothing and Culture which made me want to immediately escape to Cancun, Mexico. I know this is almost impossible right now so I don’t mind visiting the Andy Warhol: Revisited (A Pop Art Exhibition) for our next museum date. πŸ˜‰ For more details about the museum’s current exhibits and ticket price, visit www.rom.on.ca/en

DSC03767 DSC03770 DSC03771 DSC03772 DSC03773 DSC03774 DSC03776 DSC03784 DSC03786 DSC03788 DSC03791 DSC03796DSC03798DSC03801DSC03803DSC03804DSC03811DSC03812DSC03815DSC03816DSC03820DSC03821DSC03823DSC03826DSC03832DSC03835DSC03839DSC03841DSC03842DSC03843DSC03845DSC03854DSC03855DSC03857DSC03864DSC03867DSC03876DSC03877DSC03880DSC03881DSC03886DSC03891DSC03893DSC03894DSC03895DSC03896DSC03899DSC03900DSC03902DSC03903DSC03904DSC03905DSC03914DSC03916DSC03917DSC03918DSC03920DSC03921DSC03922DSC03923DSC03924DSC03927DSC03935DSC03936DSC03937DSC03944DSC03945DSC03947DSC03949DSC03950DSC03951DSC03952DSC03955DSC03956DSC03957DSC03958DSC03959DSC03960DSC03961DSC03963DSC03964DSC03967DSC03970DSC03973DSC03974DSC03968